Oversized and super-heavy transport specialist, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, completes its sixth Antarctic programme operating five IL-76TD-90VD charter flights to the coldest continent.
The flights were operated under the Dronning Maud Land Air Network Project (DROMLAN) and were routed from Cape Town (CPT) to the Novolazarevskaya ice runway (AT17), in close cooperation with the Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI).
The flights covered a distance of over 4,200 km and delivered over 200 tonnes of general cargo essential for intact and uninterrupted work of the research stations, according to the Russian cargo specialist.
Volga-Dnepr says that with its expertise, experience, aligned procedures and capable fleet of five IL-76TD-90VD freighters, the company was able to accomplish landing and take-off on the glacial blue ice runway which requires significant skill and competence from the crew members.
Ekaterina Andreeva, commercial director for Volga-Dnepr Airlines, highlights: “We are proud to be part of the DROMLAN international Antarctic project this year. Despite the challenging times and COVID-19 restriction, we supported a slightly shortened program to Antarctic Research Stations, thus enabling the scientists to continue their research programs, even though the time was shortened.
“We would like to thank our partner, ALCI, who creates the intercontinental air bridge between Cape Town (South Africa) and Novolazarevskaya station during the austral summer. Each year we increase the number of certified crew members to guarantee smooth operations – by 2020/2021 we have had two trained and qualified crews and we hope that by the next season we will have more”.
Volga-Dnepr Airlines has been part of the program since 2015 and accomplished over 150 charter flights to/from Antarctica delivering over 1,700 tonnes of general and special cargo. The modernised IL-76TD-90VD aircraft provides a series of advantages the carrier says.
This includes its flying distance capability, payload weight capacity, hermetical cargo hold, and its fuel-efficient and environment-friendly engines. “This enables Volga-Dnepr to complete cargo missions to any remote regions under severe weather conditions,” the carrier says.
The company notes that each year it ramps up its capabilities and introduces new routes and delivery options. For a number of years Volga-Dnepr has been offering delivery solutions with ‘airlift-and-drop’ possibility which are more preferable for some types of cargo and operating flights to other stations in Antarctica, it says.
In 2020, Volga-Dnepr’s specialists developed its first-ever IL-76TD-90VD fights which crossed Antarctica on its way from South Africa to Chile.
The Dronning Maud Land Air Network Project (DROMLAN) is a coordinated project between eleven countries with bases in Queen Maud Land (or Dronning Maud Land in Norwegian) to create a coordinated logistics service to reduce costs.
The participating countries include Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and UK. The services are operated using Volga-Dnepr’s IL-76TD-90VD, Norwegian and Swedish C-130 Hercules and Norwegian P-3 Orion aircraft, and occasionally other types of aircraft.
Feeder services to other research stations are operated by two Basler BT-67 (type converted DC-3/C-47), operated by the South African company Antarctic Logistics Centre International or other operators.